- Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865
Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Long title An Act to remove Doubts as to the Validity of Colonial Laws. Statute book chapter 28 & 29 Vict. c. 63 Dates Royal Assent 29 June 1865 Status: Current legislation
The purpose of the Act was to remove any apparent inconsistency between local (colonial) and British ("imperial") legislation. Thus it confirmed that colonial legislation (provided it had been passed in the proper manner) was to have full effect within the colony, limited only to the extent that it was in contradiction with ("repugnant to") any Act of Parliament that contained powers which extended beyond the boundaries of England to include that colony. This had the effect of strengthening the position of colonial legislatures, while at the same time restating their ultimate subordination to the Westminster Parliament.
Until the passage of the Act, a number of colonial statutes had been struck down by local judges on the grounds of repugnancy to English laws (whether or not those English laws had been intended by Parliament to be effective in the colony). This had been a particular problem for the government in South Australia, where Justice Benjamin Boothby had struck down local statutes on numerous occasions in the colony's Supreme Court.
By the mid-1920s it was accepted by the British government that the dominions would have full legislative autonomy. This was given legislative effect in 1931 by the Statute of Westminster, which repealed the application of the Colonial Laws Validity Act to the dominions (i.e. Canada, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the Union of South Africa).
The Statute of Westminster took effect in Australia in 1942 with the passing of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942, with retroactive effect to 3 September 1939, the start of World War II. The Colonial Laws Validity Act continued to have application in individual Australian states until the Australia Act came into effect in 1986.
The Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947 adopted the Statute of Westminster in New Zealand.
- Official text of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 as amended and in force today within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
- Official text of the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865, as originally enacted, from the Office of Public Sector Information.
- The text of the statute
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